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101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Concerning Breitbart: on: February 22, 2017, 08:00:04 PM
I have been burned a number of times by citing Breitbart.  Though often it goes where the pravdas fear to tread, its' headlines are often disingenuous and deceptive.  I'd like to ask that it be used as a source around here with care.  Please click on the background sources it cites AND READ THEM before citing it here.  Where possible CITE THE ORIGINAL SOURCE INSTEAD OF BREITBART.

Thank you.
102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ellison holds edge in DNC race on: February 22, 2017, 01:49:03 PM
103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: February 22, 2017, 01:30:08 PM
An unusually well informed Mexican friend responds to this thread:

Well I could only read trough some of it.

There are a few points I don't agree with. Specifically:

Governor Osunas cartel ties. He was the governor I work with directly... He is as clean as they come. He has the distinction of being the only governor in the history of Baja to pick military forces as bodyguards instead of police for his final 4 years of being in office. 

This is very telling.

He lives in the same house he did before he started and if you are ever so inclined I can make the introductions and you can  meet him yourself. He manages his small businesses in Baja directly. You can find him at his office most days.

Proceso is a leftist publication... And has a slant towards the PRI at times.

I take most of the stuff I read in it with a bit of scepticism.
104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Milo on Maher on: February 22, 2017, 01:16:34 PM
105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America (and pre-emptive dhimmitude) on: February 22, 2017, 01:12:23 PM
 cool cool cool cool cool cool cool cool cool
106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media, Ministry of Truth Issues on: February 22, 2017, 01:04:39 PM
Though he is a beltway guy in many ways, many of his points have merit.  There ARE some fundamental contradictions that will be put to the test.   Good luck to Will at MSNBC-- maybe he will rediscover some of his animating fire in the progressive maelstrom over there.
107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Seven Exoplanets Discovered on: February 22, 2017, 12:56:08 PM
108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / I'm leaving the CIA because of Trump on: February 22, 2017, 12:04:33 AM
109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Coulter cuts Congress: The Silence of the lambs Congress on: February 21, 2017, 11:59:22 PM
February 15, 2017

Let's compare what President Trump has accomplished since the inauguration (with that enormous crowd!) with what congressional Republicans have done.

In the past three weeks, Trump has: staffed the White House, sent a dozen Cabinet nominees to the Senate, browbeat Boeing into cutting its price on a government contract, harangued American CEOs into keeping their plants in the United States, imposed a terrorist travel ban, met with foreign leaders and nominated a Supreme Court justice, among many other things.

(And still our hero finds time to torment the media with his tweets!)

What have congressional Republicans been doing? Scrapbooking?

More than 90 percent of congressional Republicans kept their jobs after the 2016 election, so you can cross "staffing an entire branch of government" off the list. Only the Senate confirms nominees, which they've been doing at a snail's pace, so they've got loads of free time -- and the House has no excuse at all.

Where's the Obamacare repeal? Where are the hearings featuring middle-class Americans with no health insurance because it was made illegal by Obamacare?

The House passed six Obamacare repeals when Obama was president and there was no chance of them being signed into law. Back then, Republicans were full of vim and vigor! But the moment Trump became president, the repeals came to a screeching halt.

After the inauguration (gigantic!), House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put out a plan for repealing Obamacare ... in 200 days. They actually gave their legislative agenda this inspiring title: "The Two Hundred Day Plan.”


What was in the last six Obamacare repeals? If we looked, would we find "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" carefully typed out 1 million times? Seriously, what does Paul Ryan's day look like?

This is the Silence of the Lambs Congress. They're utterly silent, emerging from the House gym or their three-hour lunches only to scream to the press about Trump.

To the delight of the media, these frightened little lambs are appalled by nearly everything Trump does. They've been especially throaty about Trump's temporary travel ban from seven terrorist nations -- as designated by the Obama administration (and by everybody else who hasn't been in a deep freeze in a Finnish crevasse for the past decade).

Just like the six Obamacare repeals, a refugee ban was already written and passed by one house of Congress. Then suddenly: the Silence of the Lambs. McConnell and Ryan are hiding under their desks, as Trump is being attacked from every side.

Way, way back, 15 long months ago, congressional Republicans didn't have a problem with a total ban on Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Not for a mere three months like Trump's order -- but permanently, unless the director of the FBI, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the director of national intelligence personally certified that a particular refugee posed no danger to the U.S.

That bill passed the House with an overwhelming, veto-proof majority, including 47 Democrats. Then it went to the Senate to die.

But when President Trump imposed a comparatively mild three-month ban on immigrants from Syria, Iraq and five other terrorist nations, the same Republicans who had voted for a limitless ban on refugees whiled away their days calling reporters to denounce Trump.

A little more than a year ago, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, bragged in a press release that he had introduced the House's refugee ban, calling it a bill that would "protect Americans from ISIS.”

But when it came to Trump's three-month pause, McCaul told the Post that Trump's order "went too far.”

I guess that ISIS problem just sort of faded away. (Or maybe we should check with Mrs. McCaul, inasmuch as it's her family money that makes Rep. McCaul one of the richest members of Congress.)

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., who voted for the House's permanent refugee ban, demanded that Trump immediately rescind his travel ban, babbling on about the "many, many nuances of immigration policy" -- which he must have learned about on one of his congressional jaunts to a Las Vegas casino.

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., said that Trump's order "overreaches and undermines our constitutional system." Evidently, he was suddenly struck by the realization that it's "not lawful to ban immigrants on the basis of nationality," despite having voted to ban refugees on the basis of nationality just 15 months earlier. (I'm OK with this, provided the Syrians, Somalis and Yemenis are sent to live on Justin's street after being told about his support for gay marriage.)

Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Ben Sasse, R-Neb., both rushed to The Washington Post with this refreshingly original point: NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE TERRORISTS! Why, thank you, senators! Where would the GOP be without you?

The Post also quoted spokesmen -- spokesmen! -- for Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Rob Portman of Ohio and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina complaining about not having been briefed on Trump's order. The senators themselves were far too busy to talk to the press because they were -- wait, what were they doing again? Words With Friends? Decoupage?

Since the election, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., has been mostly occupied polishing his anti-Trump quotations to get a pat on the head from an admiring media. He complained about Trump's order, saying it was "poorly implemented" and that he had to find out about it from reporters. (I wonder why.)

This is the moment we've been waiting for our entire lives, but Republicans in Congress refuse to do the people's will. Their sole, driving obsession is to see Trump fail.

I am not presently calling for these useless, narcissistic, Trump-bashing Republicans to be defeated in their re-election bids, but they're on my Watch List. To be cleared, they can start by getting off the phone with The Washington Post and passing one of those six Obamacare repeal bills.

110  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 2017 US Tribal Gathering of the Pack May 20-21 on: February 21, 2017, 11:55:21 PM
111  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / You Can't Return to Eden on: February 21, 2017, 11:54:48 PM

You Can’t Return to Eden
By Brett and Kate McKay on Feb 20, 2017 12:46 pm
Though one of the first Europeans to explore Tahiti, Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, only stayed on the island for about ten days, he was thoroughly impressed with what appeared to be a true paradise on earth. The natives, he observed, were graceful in movement, gentle in disposition, generous in spirit, and peaceful at heart. They seemed to live in a state of childlike innocence — free from shame and modesty, open in their sexuality and nakedness, living only for pleasure and love. Bougainville saw them as untainted by the artificial mores of civilization — the very picture of the “noble savage” ideal then being celebrated back on the continent.

Tahiti’s environment itself was similarly inviting — the surroundings were verdant, the climate temperate, the days sunlit, and the food not only plentiful, but seemingly easy to gather and harvest. “I thought,” Bougainville wrote, “I was transported into the Garden of Eden.”

Even more than a century after the French explorer’s stay in 1768, and the observations of subsequent visitors who noted that Tahiti’s inhabitants were not always as peaceable as they seemed nor its resources as plenteous, travel and fiction literature continued to paint the island as an oasis of innocence, beauty, and easy abundance. Said one such leaflet:

“Born where there is no winter, in a country where the soil is richly fertile, the Tahitians have only to lift their hands in order to harvest the bread-fruits and wild bananas which form their staple food. Consequently, they have no need to work and the fishing which they carry on for the sake of a little variety in their diet is more a pleasure which they indulge in gladly…In this land where misery is unknown and labor needless…everyone has his place in the sun and in the shade, his place in the water, and his sustenance in the wood.”

One who was intrigued by this alluring description of an earthly paradise was the French artist Paul Gaugin, who saw in Tahiti a chance for a fresh start — the opportunity to throw off “everything that is artificial and conventional” and sustain himself on the fruits of an abundant garden; “There in Tahiti in the silence of the lovely topical night,” he dreamed, “[I will be] free at last, with no money troubles, and able to love, to sing and to die.”

Gaugin left his wife and children for the island in 1891, but found his destination was not quite the bountiful idyll he had imagined — that even the temperate climate had both seasons of plenty and seasons of greater scarcity, and that it was more difficult to live off the land than reaching up to grab a banana or pulling netfuls of fish from well-stocked lagoons. As he lamented, even in Tahiti, food didn’t fall into one’s lap without some effort:

“[Nature] is rich, she is generous, she refuses to no one who will ask his share of her treasures of which she has inexhaustible reserves in the trees, in the mountains, in the sea. But one must know how to climb tall trees, how to go into the mountains, in order to return weighed down with heavy booty…One must know how, one must be able to do things.”

Gaugin was not the first man to go off seeking paradise only to be disappointed in the reality he found. And he certainly won’t be the last.

Mankind has not given up on its search for a “Tahiti” — a place of plenty where one can live in innocent idleness, having every need met without labor or toil. And there remain innumerable companies and ads that seek to capitalize on this universal human desire — the longing not just to literally journey to a location where the living’s easy, but to achieve an unburdened, unstressed psychological state. Such hawkers of attainable paradise may not produce leaflets trumpeting the wonders of Tahiti, but the promise being offered is very much the same: use this gadget, employ this hack, take this lifestyle design course, and you can return to Eden. You can earn money without work, eat whatever you want without gaining weight, love whoever you will without consequence.

Underneath the allure of all these promises — at the bottom of this ache for utopia — lies a desire to return to youth, to restore the responsibility-free life that was forfeited in the process of growing up.

Yet no matter how much one seeks this left behind paradise, there’s no going back to Eden.

By the Sweat of Your Brow

The story of Adam and Eve is common to all of the world’s Abrahamic religions, and its influence is infused throughout cultures around the world. Some see the story as absolute scripture, as literally true. Others see it only as literature, as myth. Between, and in-between the two camps, multiple interpretations of the story have been forwarded — some which view its meaning not, or not only as, a carrier of spiritual/theological truths, but as a symbolic meditation on human psychology.

Arguably the most compelling of these interpretations, in my view, has been advanced by scholars who see the story of Adam and Eve as a metaphor for maturation.

In this view, the innocent state in which Adam and Eve originally exist corresponds to the innocence that all children inhabit. Just like kids, Adam and Eve initially do not know they are naked nor feel shame in their bare bodies. And just like kids, the pair’s responsibilities are light. Adam is tasked with working and taking care of this “garden eastward in Eden,” but his surroundings seem to be so lush, that one does not imagine his duties being particularly laborious; his father has provided an abundance of fruit trees from which Adam and Eve can simply pluck their daily sustenance. All their needs are taken care of by a loving parent.

There’s one tree in the garden Adam and Eve can’t eat from, however — that which bears the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Ignorant of these two moral poles, they have never made a real mistake, but also have never been tempted to sin, nor had to make a fully autonomous choice between right and wrong. As the parent of young children, Adam and Eve’s father wants to protect them from the brunt of that struggle, knowing that with more knowledge comes more responsibility — weightier consequences for choices — and that they aren’t yet ready to make all their own decisions.
Unlike in the traditional Christian interpretation of the story in which God wishes to keep Adam and Eve from the tree of knowledge indefinitely, however, in looking at it as a metaphor for maturation, the father knows that his children will eventually partake of its fruit, and he both dreads that day, and yet understands its necessity in their future happiness.

Like all parents, he wrestles with dueling impulses: on the one hand, he wants his kids to stay innocent, safe, and close to him forever; but on the other, he knows that they can’t grow or progress unless they separate from him, gain knowledge, and learn to exercise moral agency on their own. Hence his conflicting commandments: he tells Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil…but he also tells them to multiply. Some readers have felt that this latter commandment could not have been fulfilled by Adam and Eve without their first breaking the former, and thus becoming awakened to their nakedness, their sexuality — their desire for each other. Here then is a father who doesn’t want his kids to get older, but knows they must to fulfill their potential, and to follow his pattern in having children themselves. It’s a fractured feeling every parent has experienced: “Don’t grow up!” “Please grow up!”

It is Eve who first recognizes that “the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom” and who first partakes of it — no surprise, since girls mature before boys do. Adam, still in the prepubescent “Girls are yucky” phase, has to be coaxed into the transgression, but he too comes to see that eating the fruit is the only way forward. The pair recognize their nakedness and their first feelings of shame — they have entered adolescence and discovered their sexuality. They will begin to individuate from their father, and make more and more of their own choices.

Their father, in turn, mourns when he realizes this fact and recognizes his children have become sexualized beings and are growing up — and away from him. He disgorges the consequences that lie down the path they are heading — onerous toil and painful childbirth — which, while often seen as punishments in the traditional interpretation of the story, are here read as descriptive rather than prescriptive; i.e., this is just how adulthood is — here’s what to expect.
Adam and Eve have just begun the journey to growing up, and they need to learn even more by striking out on their own. It’s time for them to leave the Garden of Eden. But the rupture between Adam and Eve and their father is hardly total. He makes garments of skin to protect them as they set out for the “real world.” And while they no longer walk with their father daily as they did in the garden, they continue to speak with him as they venture outside it. They’re still made in his image.

As Adam and Eve continue to grow up, they’ll make mistakes, and the consequences will sometimes sting — as will the thorns and thistles they encounter in their work. Sometimes Adam will resent the sweat that forms on his brow as he tries to make a life for him and Eve. Sometimes he will be homesick for Eden. But while the line of communication and mentoring between children and father remains intact, there is ultimately no going back for Adam. The way is barred by cherubim and a flaming sword; regression to an infantile state isn’t possible. Or even desirable.

Not if he wants to continue to grow. Not if he wants to become who he is. There are lessons he can only learn outside the garden.

Seen through a theological lens, the story of Adam and Eve might be an explanation for how sin entered the world. But seen another way, it might not only describe a fall from spiritual grace, but a rise to earthly moral agency — an allegory of the challenge all mortals face in separating from their parents, asserting their own will, and growing up.

Heeding the Cherubim and a Flaming Sword 

I like to think of this layer of meaning on the Adam and Eve story when I’m putting my children to bed at night. The lights are low, their beds are cozy, and I’m often tired. Knowing I have a few more hours of work to do before I get to turn in, I sometimes want to just crawl under the covers with them, sleep as long as I desire, and wake up to another day of playing and making crafts at school. I want to be six again.

But then I think of the cherubim and their flaming sword, and I am comforted to remember that one of humanity’s oldest texts foretold this feeling thousands of years ago. That it’s universal and timeless and millions upon millions have felt and overcome it before.

I remember in that moment that wish as I might, there’s no going back to Eden, and that even if there was, I wouldn’t want to. That the search for a hack to get there, or some secret vacation spot where it’s hiding is not only fruitless, but counterproductive in reaching my goal of learning as much as possible and maximizing my full potential before I die.

I remember that childhood is full of innocence, but also ignorance; that knowledge brings freedom and autonomy, but also responsibility, and that responsibility brings burdens. And I try to welcome them as grounding counterbalances in a life that would otherwise be marked by empty weightlessness. I try to find the ways in which the sweat of my brow is not vindictive but redemptive.

I remind myself that while I desire to be taken care of, such care would exact a price in my autonomy and ability to be an independent moral agent. That you can only meaningfully say yes, if you’re fully able to say no. When the urge to crawl back into the womb is strong, I remember that while it’s warm and safe in that idyll, there’s almost no room to turn and move and stretch out.

The story of Adam and Eve can teach us that while there is pleasure in tending to another’s creations, there’s more pleasure in creating ourselves. It can teach us that there can be no growth without opposition, no sweet without the bitter. That you can’t choose good without knowing evil. That though thorns and thistles only grow outside the garden, the same is true of character.

So I thank the cherubim for barring the way, and I remember that paradise can be created where you are, at whatever age, and that growing up can be a wonderful upwards fall.

The post You Can’t Return to Eden appeared first on The Art of Manliness.
112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Muslim Brotherhood mourns Jihadi terrorist's death on: February 21, 2017, 09:02:33 PM
"Moderate" Muslim Brotherhood Mourns Terrorist's Death
by John Rossomando
IPT News
February 21, 2017
113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: China's Strategy on: February 21, 2017, 12:05:19 PM

By Rodger Baker

In response to North Korea's latest missile test, and perhaps to the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, China has declared it will cease coal imports from North Korea for the entirety of the year. Beijing's threat to North Korea could significantly impact Pyongyang's finances, already stretched as the North continually seeks ways around international sanctions. But it also shows the limits of Beijing's actions toward North Korea. Even as China takes a more assertive role internationally, in finance, politics and even militarily, it views its global role — and potential responsibilities — far differently than the United States or earlier European empires.

The lens of China's latest actions on North Korea is a useful prism to understand how China throughout history has dealt with its periphery and beyond — and how it is likely to do so in the future.

For on a nearly daily basis, there are reports suggesting the decline of U.S. global power, and the attendant rise of China. This despite the slowing pace of Chinese economic growth, high levels of domestic bad loans and the massive undertaking of a shift from an export-led economic model to one based on domestic consumption, with the attendant structural shift in political and social patterns. China is seen as the next major global power, overshadowing the former Soviet Union and giving the United States a run for its money.

This view of China contrasts with how the country has been viewed for much of the past century: as the passed-by Asian power, the country that was most upended from its former glory by European colonialism and imperial competition, a Middle Kingdom carved into spheres of influence, forced to capitulate to Western concepts of trade and access, and left vulnerable to Japanese aggression at the turn of the last century. China is now seen as awakening, as consolidating political power domestically, building a strong and outwardly focused military, and spreading its economic reach across the globe, most recently with the network of infrastructure and trading routes characterizing the One Belt, One Road initiative.

In short, although China had some setbacks because of the fallout from the 2009 global financial crisis, it was perhaps affected less politically and socially compared with Europe and the United States, and this has presented the opportunity for the 4,000-year-old-plus country to take its turn at global leadership. And as I noted a few weeks ago, we may be seeing a shift in the willingness of the United States to play the role of global hegemon. From military expansion in the South China Sea to economic expansion with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), China is on the rise. Again.
A Sole Challenger Emerges

The rising China narrative is not new. A decade ago, the iconic May 17, 2007, Economist cover showed a panda atop the Empire State Building, a la King Kong. Nearly a decade earlier, in December 1998, U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher was flown in a Philippine military aircraft over a Chinese installation on Mischief Reef, raising an early concern of Chinese military expansion in the South China Sea. While these are but two anecdotes, a decade apart, it would be easy to list hundreds of others. And it isn't difficult to understand why.

With the end of the Cold War, aside from the multinational European Union, there was little potential for any nation alone to rise to power on such a scale as to challenge the United States as a peer power, much less as a single global hegemon. No country, that is, except perhaps China. China's population, its rapid rise into the central position of global supply chains, its economic expansion, its strategic location linking Eurasia to the Pacific, and its unitary government allowing centralized decision-making and long-term strategic planning all pointed to a country that could emerge as a real challenger. And China seemed at times interested in doing so.

But there is a difference between the potential to, the capability to, or even the desire to. China certainly wants to have a greater say in the structure of the global system that is now emerging, a system that from China's perspective should be multilateral, without a single dominant global power. China's drive toward "big power" status is not the same as seeking the central role of a global system. The reality is that the cost to maintain a central global role is just too high. The British, the French, the Spanish and Portuguese, the Americans, even more regional powers like Japan, Germany and the various guises of Russia, all showed that maintaining central power over a vast empire is simply exhausting. A hegemony must respond to challenges, no matter how small, or risk losing its power and influence. China may be a big country, but it is far from ready to take on the role of global balancer.
The Center of a Regional System

Which is why it may be useful to look back into history to see how China has managed power in the past. For some 2,000 years, prior to European imperial advancements in the early 19th century, China sat at the center of a regional imperial system of its own, where China was clearly seen as first among unequals. Imperial China developed a system of maintaining influence while limiting the need for direct action. China, in many respects, retained passive influence rather than direct positive control. Power moved out in rings from the core. There was China proper, protected by an integrated shell of buffer states. For some of these, from Xinjiang to Tibet to Manchuria, China was not always dominant, but when outside powers swept across the buffers to change Chinese empires, they at times found themselves ultimately integrated into the Chinese system.

Beyond that were tributary powers, kingdoms that nominally respected China's role at the center of a Sinacized region. These included areas such as Korea, the Shan state of Burma or even what is now Vietnam — areas where China attempted to expand but reached the limits of its power. Beyond these were so-called barbarian powers, ones that required minimal contact and were generally regarded as inferior (and thus not needing integration). These not only included places like the Ryukyu Islands, parts of the Malay Peninsula and some of the Central Asian ethnic tribes, but also the more distant European civilizations at times.

China could influence the behavior of its neighbors, but it did so as often as possible through passive means, demonstrating power but rarely using it. Instead, so long as the neighbors did not fundamentally counter China's core interests, they were largely left to their own devices. In this manner, China could remain central to a regional system while expending little in time, effort or resources to enforce its will — particularly when imperial expansion proved unachievable. Neighbors including Korea and Vietnam paid tribute and adopted the written language, governing systems and social structures from the Middle Kingdom. This cultural and political influence reduced the need for military action by either side of the arrangement.

In short, most countries, most of the time, largely accepted the arrangement, both for cultural reasons and because the cost of direct challenge was often too high. This did not prevent various challenges — the Mongols and Manchu, for example, or Japan's attempted usurpation of the Chinese imperial throne in the late 16th century. But these invaders more often sought to insert themselves at the center of the Sinitic order, rather than completely overturn it. Even the failed invasion by Japan's Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the last decade of the 1500s, which devastated Korea but failed to reach China proper, was an attempt to move Hideyoshi to China, allowing him to place his young son on the throne in Japan, linking the two empires but leaving China the physical and political center.

China's crisis with Western imperialism through the 1800s occurred at a time of dynastic and imperial weakness, and China was further weakened by Japanese occupation beginning in the 1930s and then by civil war from 1945 to 1949. The early Mao years were about reconstituting Chinese unity, but also showed the stirrings of Chinese foreign interest in a modern era. Although China under Mao played a role in the overall international Communist drive, providing money, manpower and materiel to various insurgencies, this was paired with a longer-term and more passive strategy. China made friends. Not necessarily with leaders, but with individuals who could ultimately prove influential, and perhaps nudge them to victory.

In part in keeping with its historical management strategy, China retained influence through its backing of leaders, from the king of Cambodia to the Nepalese monarchy to the Kim family in North Korea. But China also acted by retaining relations with many alternatives in and out of governments. The idea was that, no matter who came to power, China would have at least some existing relationship to draw on. Where China was drawn into regional conflict — with Vietnam and in Korea — it saw a potential threat to its buffer, and acted out of self-interest.
An Alternate Vision for the World

As we move into the current era, China is seeking to re-establish itself at the center of the region, politically, economically and strategically. The One Belt, One Road initiative is a key component of China's foreign strategy, to link itself into the emerging economic patterns around the region, placing China in the center of an integrated regional trading system. It also reflects a broader ambition — one where China takes hold of the so-called strategic pivot of the European landmass. China's establishment of the AIIB in late 2015 is part of a broader initiative intended to place China at the center of a regional financial system, one that breaks free from what Beijing sees as the economic hegemony of the Bretton Woods system that established the U.S. dollar as the global reserve.

Politically, China is continuing to offer a counter to the United States, positioning itself as a country that does not try to assert a specific political system upon others, but that rather is willing to work with whatever government a country may have. Militarily, China has asserted itself as the central power in the Western Pacific and argues that Japan is an imperial threat because of history, and the United States is a foreign interloper. China can provide regional security for all, so long as all accept China's central role.

At a time when Russia is working to reassert its influence around its periphery, when Europe is struggling to define its own future (greater integration, or disassociation into its constituent parts), and when the United States, at least temporarily, appears ready to step back from the role of global hegemon, the global system is in flux. What China is seeking on a global level is to fill an opening, to reshape the global system into one where spheres of influence among the dominant powers are recognized and respected. This is neither globalism nor hegemony. It is perhaps more akin to the period of European empires, though more regionally arranged. It is a world divided among great powers, each the relatively benign center of its own region.

China's curtailment of coal imports from North Korea is thus a reminder to an increasingly defiant semi-ally that it must behave against the contours of regional power. It should not be seen as the ultimatum of a would-be global hegemon.
114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Riots in Sweden on: February 21, 2017, 11:52:46 AM
second post
115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Anti-semitism & Jews on: February 21, 2017, 11:51:51 AM
Investigators with the University City Police Department are working to determine who knocked over or damaged dozens of headstones at a local Jewish cemetery Thursday morning. Police would not say if they considered the vandalism at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery to be a hate crime. It is believed there was some organization behind the crime, meaning this was not the act of one individual. The tombstones vandalized are in an older section of the cemetery; much of which pre-date 1960. A steady stream of people were stopping by to see if the toppled headstones belonged to any of their family members who are buried at the site. Police said they're reviewing security camera footage from the area. More than 100 headstones were damaged. The investigation coincides with yet another round of bomb threats at Jewish community centers across the nation. According to cemetery executive director, Anita Feigenbaum a clean-up effort is being planned. Feigenbaum, said the Muslim community has offered to help with the effort as well.

The incident coincides with waves of bomb threats directed at Jewish community centers across the US. On Monday at least 10 Jewish community centers were targeted with bomb threats, for the fourth time in five weeks. The threats have been called in to JCCs across the country, according to Paul Goldenberg, the director of Secure Community Network — an affiliate of the Jewish Federations of North America that advises Jewish groups and institutions on security.
116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / McMaster on: February 21, 2017, 11:11:57 AM
The man seems to be an outstanding choice.
117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / France: Marie Le Pen refuses head scarf on: February 21, 2017, 10:50:26 AM
118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Two quality discussions on Tucker Carlson on Sweden on: February 21, 2017, 02:20:49 AM
119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Education on: February 20, 2017, 05:14:51 PM
15 miles?
120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / My constitutional law professor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg on: February 20, 2017, 05:13:25 PM
121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: February 20, 2017, 04:26:29 PM
It most certainly seems to be a significant development.
122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: February 20, 2017, 04:25:35 PM
I might add that the third one passed on trying for the presidency and went back to being governor of BCN or BCS where he was reputed to have gotten quite wealthy while governor there previously-- presumably working in concert with local cartel(s).  (Working from memory here based on an article I read in Proceso the last time I was in Mexico.

Do I have this right DDF?
123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Milo on: February 20, 2017, 11:50:12 AM
124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Coal, the Navajo, and President Trump on: February 20, 2017, 11:18:14 AM
125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China cuts off coal imports! on: February 20, 2017, 11:03:52 AM

Perhaps if this weren't WaPo more prominent mention might have been given to the possibility that the phone call with President Trump played a role here.
126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: February 20, 2017, 10:50:26 AM
And two dead Secretarias de Gobernacion (the #2 post in the country, and quite commonly the next president) from odd plane/helicopter crashes during the previous administration , , ,
127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ambassador Haley off to a rockin' start on: February 20, 2017, 10:48:38 AM
"Haley’s Comet" | Editorial of The New York Sun | February 16, 2017 | on Nikki Haley

A star is born is our reaction to the first press briefing by President Trump’s new ambassador at the United Nations. The ex-governor of South Carolina was ridiculed by the Left when the president first sent her nomination up to the Hill, owing to her alleged lack of foreign policy chops. She certainly rang the wake up gong for that crowd this morning, after emerging from her first Security Council monthly meeting devoted to the Middle East. Tough as nails but with a smile and a layer of Southern charm.

The ambassador had just come from the regular monthly Security Council on Middle East issues. She said it was her first such meeting, and “it was a bit strange.” The Security Council, she said, is supposed to discuss how to maintain international peace and security. But the meeting, she said, was not about Hezbollah’s illegal buildup of rockets in Lebanon, it was not about the money and weapons Iran provides to terrorists, it was not how we defeat ISIS, it was not how we hold Beshar al-Assad accountable for the slaughter of thousands of civilians.

“No,” she said, “instead the meeting focused on criticizing Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East. I am new around here, but I understand that’s how the Council has operated month after month for decades. I am here to say the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore. I am here to underscore to the ironclad support of the United States for Israel. I am here to emphasize that the United States is determined to stand up to the U.N.’s anti-Israel bias.”

The ambassador made clear that the Trump administration will not support the kind of resolution from which the Obama administration’s ambassador — Samantha Power — shamefully abstained, though Mrs. Haley was too polite to name the humiliated Ms. Power. “The outrageously biased resolutions from the Security Council and the General Assembly only make peace harder to attain by discouraging one of the parties from going to the negotiating table.”

“Incredibly,” Mrs. Haley said, “the U.N. department of political affairs has an entire division devoted entirely to Palestinian affairs. Imagine that. There is no division devoted to illegal missile launches form North Korea. There is no division devoted to the world’s number one state sponsor of terror, Iran. The prejudiced approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues does the peace process no favors, and it bears no relationship to the reality of the world around us. The double standards are breathtaking.”

The ambassador warned that it is “the U.N.’s anti-Israel bias that is long overdue for change,” and said America will not hesitate to speak out in defense of its friend in Israel. All this was going on while the press was questioning President Trump on what he was going to do about anti-Semitism. If his ambassador to the world body is any example, the answer is plenty. She has the principles of a Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the grit of a John Bolton, and the star power of a Jeane Kirkpatrick, and in her first press briefing she certainly made her point.
128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NRO: Why was FBI investigating Flynn? on: February 20, 2017, 12:04:49 AM
A serious, detailed discussion of the law as pertains to the FBI's actions with regard to Flynn:
129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The "I" word on: February 19, 2017, 11:38:12 PM
130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hacker claims to break into Clinton Foundation on: February 19, 2017, 11:34:58 PM
Caveat lector
131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: If personel is policy, then , , , on: February 19, 2017, 11:06:51 PM
MELBOURNE, Fla. — During President Trump’s transition to power, his team reached out to Elliott Abrams for help building a new administration. Mr. Abrams, a seasoned Republican foreign policy official, sent lists of possible candidates for national security jobs.

One by one, the answer from the Trump team came back no. The reason was consistent: This one had said disparaging things about Mr. Trump during the campaign; that one had signed a letter opposing him. Finally, the White House asked Mr. Abrams himself to meet with the president about becoming deputy secretary of state, only to have the same thing happen — vetoed because of past criticism.

Mr. Abrams’s experience has become a case study in the challenges Mr. Trump still faces in filling top positions a month into his presidency. Mr. Trump remains fixated on the campaign as he applies a loyalty test to some prospective officials. For their part, many Republicans reacted to what happened to Mr. Abrams with dismay, leaving them increasingly leery about joining an administration that cannot get past the past.

As Mr. Trump brings candidates for national security adviser to meet with him in Florida this weekend, he presides over a government where the upper echelons remain sparsely populated. Six of the 15 statutory cabinet secretaries are still awaiting Senate confirmation as Democrats nearly uniformly oppose almost all of the president’s choices. Even some of the cabinet secretaries who are in place may feel they are home alone.

It is not just Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson who has no deputy secretary, much less Trump-appointed under secretaries or assistant secretaries. Neither do the heads of the Treasury Department, the Education Department or any of the other cabinet departments. Only three of 15 nominees have been named for deputy secretary positions. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has a deputy only because he kept the one left over from President Barack Obama’s administration.

That does not even begin to cover the rest of the more than 4,000 appointments that a president typically makes. In some cases, the Trump administration is even going in reverse. A senior political appointee at the housing department, who had already started the job, was fired this past week and marched out of the building when someone discovered his previous statements critical of Mr. Trump.

The president’s top Latin America official at the National Security Council was likewise fired after just weeks on the job for complaining about internal dysfunction at an off-the-record discussion at a Washington research organization, according to officials, who confirmed a Politico report. The State Department has laid off six top career officials in recent days, apparently out of questions about their loyalty to Mr. Trump.

“Many tough things were said about him and by him” before last year’s election, Mr. Abrams, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s assistant secretary of state and President George W. Bush’s deputy national security adviser, said in an interview. “I would have hoped he would have turned toward just hiring the most effective people to help him govern rather than looking back to what we said in that race.”

Mr. Trump has fallen behind the pace of his last three predecessors both in naming senior officials who require Senate confirmation and in securing their confirmations, according to data compiled by the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. Whereas Mr. Obama had nominated 40 senior officials by Feb. 11, 2009, Mr. Trump had named 34 of them as of Friday. Mr. Obama had 24 confirmed at that point, while Mr. Trump has 14.

The trouble assembling an administration reflects the deeper rift between Mr. Trump and the Washington establishment of both parties. A reality-show businessman with no government experience, Mr. Trump catapulted to power on a promise to break up the existing system. Even after he won the Republican nomination last year, he did little to win over those who had opposed him, while his “never Trump” critics within the party kept up a steady assault on his qualifications and temperament.

Mr. Trump faces other hurdles, too. With no cadre ready to go from past political service, he has been starting from scratch. His team has been slow to vet candidates, and in some cases his choices have had troubles with their business backgrounds or other matters. And Democrats have mounted a wall of resistance to his nominations, slowing the process down.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment, but Mr. Trump has disputed reports of troubles. “The White House is running so smoothly, so smoothly,” he told a rally of supporters in Melbourne, Fla., on Saturday. “And believe me, we inherited one big mess, that I can tell you.”

The ill will between Mr. Trump and much of the Republican establishment works both ways. Many Republicans who might have agreed to work for the president have been turned off by what they consider his sometimes erratic behavior and the competing power centers inside his White House. After firing his first national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump found that his initial choice for a replacement, Robert S. Harward, a retired vice admiral, would not take the job.

“The problem is that with each successive episode, it raises the stakes for the next one,” said Peter D. Feaver, a Duke University professor who was a strategic planning adviser to Mr. Bush. “It’s going to be hard for the next outsider to accept the national security job and not request the ability to make personnel changes.”

Richard N. Haass, a former Republican official and now president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said Mr. Trump had “ruled out much of an entire generation of Republican public policy types” and alarmed others with his empowerment of Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist, to shape national security. Even some cabinet secretaries appear unable to pick their own staff.
Former Senator Judd Gregg, Republican of New Hampshire, said the roster of business veterans that Mr. Trump had enlisted for his cabinet was “the most positive thing about his administration so far.” Credit Cooper Neill for The New York Times

“This is unprecedented, it’s untraditional, it’s outside the mainstream,” said Mr. Haass, whose own name had been floated for a position. “And so it’s just that you’d be signing on for, at a minimum, tremendous uncertainty, and quite possibly for being associated with a set of policies you deeply disagree with.”

Stuart Holliday, an ambassador under Mr. Bush, said many Republicans would want to work for Mr. Tillerson or Mr. Mattis. “However, the Republican foreign policy bench is not that deep at senior levels,” he said, “especially if you factor in people who took themselves off the field.”

Former Senator Judd Gregg, Republican of New Hampshire, said the business veterans that Mr. Trump had enlisted for his cabinet were “the most positive thing about his administration so far.” But he added that the president’s disregard for advice could complicate his efforts to fill posts. “You get the feeling that he’s still flying by his own experiences,” he said, “and that’s got to concern anyone who cares about these issues.”

For Mr. Trump, the challenge is more pronounced because he and his advisers feel they cannot trust some of the senior career professionals still working at the White House or cabinet departments. Leaks about Mr. Flynn and Mr. Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders have convinced White House officials that they face an opposition within.

“You have a new administration that also has fewer people familiar with the processes and systems of government, including the importance of the vetting process,” said Max Stier, the chief executive of the Center for Presidential Transition at the Partnership for Public Service. “You can’t operate as they did in the campaign context, with a smaller than usual group — it doesn’t work.”

Indeed, Mr. Trump’s failure to vet candidates in advance has led to some stumbles. A White House scheduler was fired this past week because of an issue that surfaced in her background check, something that normally would have been completed weeks ago.

Another challenge has been Mr. Trump’s implementation of ethics rules that bar White House officials from lobbying for five years after they leave the government, prompting senior congressional officials and lobbyists to demur.

Mr. Trump has faulted the Democratic minority in the Senate for obstructing his choices. Democrats have voted almost as a bloc against many of his nominees, breaking with long tradition in which the opposition party largely went along with a president’s selections, except in specific cases of controversy. “The Democrats are making it very difficult,” Mr. Trump said at his news conference on Thursday. “This is pure delay tactics.”

Despite his own experience, one person still urging Republicans to take jobs in the administration is Mr. Abrams. “I have been encouraging everybody to go into the government if offered an appropriate position,” he said. “That was my view, and it’s still my view, because you have one president and one government at a time.
132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: A Back Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, via Trump Associates on: February 19, 2017, 10:56:44 PM
A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates


President Trump on his way to Charleston, S.C., on Friday. Although he has expressed hope that the United States and Russia can work together, it is unclear if the White House will take a privately submitted peace proposal for Ukraine seriously. Credit Al Drago/The New York Times

A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia.

Mr. Flynn is gone, having been caught lying about his own discussion of sanctions with the Russian ambassador. But the proposal, a peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, remains, along with those pushing it: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who delivered the document; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia; and a Ukrainian lawmaker trying to rise in a political opposition movement shaped in part by Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

At a time when Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia, and the people connected to him, are under heightened scrutiny — with investigations by American intelligence agencies, the F.B.I. and Congress — some of his associates remain willing and eager to wade into Russia-related efforts behind the scenes.

Mr. Trump has confounded Democrats and Republicans alike with his repeated praise for the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, and his desire to forge an American-Russian alliance. While there is nothing illegal about such unofficial efforts, a proposal that seems to tip toward Russian interests may set off alarms.
Donald Trump’s Connections in Ukraine

Former Trump campaign manager with pro-Russian political ties in Ukraine now under investigation by the F.B.I.

The amateur diplomats say their goal is simply to help settle a grueling, three-year conflict that has cost 10,000 lives. “Who doesn’t want to help bring about peace?” Mr. Cohen asked.

But the proposal contains more than just a peace plan. Andrii V. Artemenko, the Ukrainian lawmaker, who sees himself as a Trump-style leader of a future Ukraine, claims to have evidence — “names of companies, wire transfers” — showing corruption by the Ukrainian president, Petro O. Poroshenko, that could help oust him. And Mr. Artemenko said he had received encouragement for his plans from top aides to Mr. Putin.

“A lot of people will call me a Russian agent, a U.S. agent, a C.I.A. agent,” Mr. Artemenko said. “But how can you find a good solution between our countries if we do not talk?”

Mr. Cohen and Mr. Sater said they had not spoken to Mr. Trump about the proposal, and have no experience in foreign policy. Mr. Cohen is one of several Trump associates under scrutiny in an F.B.I. counterintelligence examination of links with Russia, according to law enforcement officials; he has denied any illicit connections.

The two others involved in the effort have somewhat questionable pasts: Mr. Sater, 50, a Russian-American, pleaded guilty to a role in a stock manipulation scheme decades ago that involved the Mafia. Mr. Artemenko spent two and a half years in jail in Kiev in the early 2000s on embezzlement charges, later dropped, which he said had been politically motivated.

While it is unclear if the White House will take the proposal seriously, the diplomatic freelancing has infuriated Ukrainian officials. Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Valeriy Chaly, said Mr. Artemenko “is not entitled to present any alternative peace plans on behalf of Ukraine to any foreign government, including the U.S. administration.”

At a security conference in Munich on Friday, Mr. Poroshenko warned the West against “appeasement” of Russia, and some American experts say offering Russia any alternative to a two-year-old international agreement on Ukraine would be a mistake. The Trump administration has sent mixed signals about the conflict in Ukraine.

But given Mr. Trump’s praise for Mr. Putin, John Herbst, a former American ambassador to Ukraine, said he feared the new president might be too eager to mend relations with Russia at Ukraine’s expense — potentially with a plan like Mr. Artemenko’s.

It was late January when the three men associated with the proposed plan converged on the Loews Regency, a luxury hotel on Park Avenue in Manhattan where business deals are made in a lobby furnished with leather couches, over martinis at the restaurant bar and in private conference rooms on upper floors.

Mr. Cohen, 50, lives two blocks up the street, in Trump Park Avenue. A lawyer who joined the Trump Organization in 2007 as special counsel, he has worked on many deals, including a Trump-branded tower in the republic of Georgia and a short-lived mixed martial arts venture starring a Russian fighter. He is considered a loyal lieutenant whom Mr. Trump trusts to fix difficult problems.
Andrii V. Artemenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker, at the Women’s March in Washington last month. He said his peace proposal had received encouragement from top aides to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.

The F.B.I. is reviewing an unverified dossier, compiled by a former British intelligence agent and funded by Mr. Trump’s political opponents, that claims Mr. Cohen met with a Russian representative in Prague during the presidential campaign to discuss Russia’s hacking of Democratic targets. But the Russian official named in the report told The New York Times that he had never met Mr. Cohen. Mr. Cohen insists that he has never visited Prague and that the dossier’s assertions are fabrications. (Mr. Manafort is also under investigation by the F.B.I. for his connections to Russia and Ukraine.)

Mr. Cohen has a personal connection to Ukraine: He is married to a Ukrainian woman and once worked with relatives there to establish an ethanol business.

Mr. Artemenko, tall and burly, arrived at the Manhattan hotel between visits to Washington. (His wife, he said, met the first lady, Melania Trump, years ago during their modeling careers, but he did not try to meet Mr. Trump.) He had attended the inauguration and visited Congress, posting on Facebook his admiration for Mr. Trump and talking up his peace plan in meetings with American lawmakers.

He entered Parliament in 2014, the year that the former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych fled to Moscow amid protests over his economic alignment with Russia and corruption. Mr. Manafort, who had been instrumental in getting Mr. Yanukovych elected, helped shape a political bloc that sprang up to oppose the new president, Mr. Poroshenko, a wealthy businessman who has taken a far tougher stance toward Russia and accused Mr. Putin of wanting to absorb Ukraine into a new Russian Empire. Mr. Artemenko, 48, emerged from the opposition that Mr. Manafort nurtured. (The two men have never met, Mr. Artemenko said.)

Before entering politics, Mr. Artemenko had business ventures in the Middle East and real estate deals in the Miami area, and had worked as an agent representing top Ukrainian athletes. Some colleagues in Parliament describe him as corrupt, untrustworthy or simply insignificant, but he appears to have amassed considerable wealth.

He has fashioned himself in the image of Mr. Trump, presenting himself as Ukraine’s answer to a rising class of nationalist leaders in the West. He even traveled to Cleveland last summer for the Republican National Convention, seizing on the chance to meet with members of Mr. Trump’s campaign.

“It’s time for new leaders, new approaches to the governance of the country, new principles and new negotiators in international politics,” he wrote on Facebook on Jan. 27. “Our time has come!”

Mr. Artemenko said he saw in Mr. Trump an opportunity to advocate a plan for peace in Ukraine — and help advance his own political career. Essentially, his plan would require the withdrawal of all Russian forces from eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian voters would decide in a referendum whether Crimea, the Ukrainian territory seized by Russia in 2014, would be leased to Russia for a term of 50 or 100 years.

The Ukrainian ambassador, Mr. Chaly, rejected a lease of that kind. “It is a gross violation of the Constitution,” he said in written answers to questions from The Times. “Such ideas can be pitched or pushed through only by those openly or covertly representing Russian interests.”

The reaction suggested why Mr. Artemenko’s project also includes the dissemination of “kompromat,” or compromising material, purportedly showing that Mr. Poroshenko and his closest associates are corrupt. Only a new government, presumably one less hostile to Russia, might take up his plan.
President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine in Kiev on Wednesday. Two days later in Munich, he warned the West against “appeasement” of Russia. Credit Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Mr. Sater, a longtime business associate of Mr. Trump’s with connections in Russia, was willing to help Mr. Artemenko’s proposal reach the White House.

Mr. Trump has sought to distance himself from Mr. Sater in recent years. If Mr. Sater “were sitting in the room right now,” Mr. Trump said in a 2013 deposition, “I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.”

But Mr. Sater worked on real estate development deals with the Trump Organization on and off for at least a decade, even after his role in the stock manipulation scheme came to light.

Mr. Sater, who was born in the Soviet Union and grew up in New York, served as an executive at a firm called Bayrock Group, two floors below the Trump Organization in Trump Tower, and was later a senior adviser to Mr. Trump.

He said he had been working on a plan for a Trump Tower in Moscow with a Russian real estate developer as recently as the fall of 2015, one that he said had come to a halt because of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. (Mr. Cohen said the Trump Organization had received a letter of intent for a project in Moscow from a Russian real estate developer at that time but determined that the project was not feasible.)

Mr. Artemenko said a mutual friend had put him in touch with Mr. Sater. Helping to advance the proposal, Mr. Sater said, made sense.

“I want to stop a war, number one,” he said. “Number two, I absolutely believe that the U.S. and Russia need to be allies, not enemies. If I could achieve both in one stroke, it would be a home run.”

After speaking with Mr. Sater and Mr. Artemenko in person, Mr. Cohen said he would deliver the plan to the White House.

Mr. Cohen said he did not know who in the Russian government had offered encouragement on it, as Mr. Artemenko claims, but he understood there was a promise of proof of corruption by the Ukrainian president.

“Fraud is never good, right?” Mr. Cohen said.

He said Mr. Sater had given him the written proposal in a sealed envelope. When Mr. Cohen met with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office in early February, he said, he left the proposal in Mr. Flynn’s office.

Mr. Cohen said he was waiting for a response when Mr. Flynn was forced from his post. Now Mr. Cohen, Mr. Sater and Mr. Artemenko are hoping a new national security adviser will take up their cause. On Friday the president wrote on Twitter that he had four new candidates for the job.
Correction: February 19, 2017

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article gave an incorrect middle initial for Paul Manafort. It is J., not D.
133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Gen. James N. Mattis on: February 19, 2017, 04:08:58 PM
134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: February 19, 2017, 04:06:53 PM
or , , , desaparecido , , ,
135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Novak: Democracy, Capitalism on: February 19, 2017, 10:39:03 AM

By Michael Novak
Feb. 17, 2017 6:46 p.m. ET

(This article appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 27, 1994. Michael Novak died Friday at 83.)

Democracy, Winston Churchill once said, is a bad system of government, except when compared to all the others. Much the same might be said of capitalism. It is not a system much celebrated by the poets, the philosophers or the priests. From time to time, it has seemed romantic to the young; but not very often. Capitalism is a system that commends itself best to the middle aged, after they have gained some experience of the way history treats the plans of men.

My own field of inquiry is theology and philosophy. From the perspective of these fields, I would not want it to be thought that any system is the Kingdom of God on Earth. Capitalism isn’t. Democracy isn’t. The two combined are not. The best that can be said for them (and it is quite enough) is that, in combination, capitalism, democracy, and pluralism are more protective of the rights, opportunities, and conscience of ordinary citizens (all citizens) than any known alternative.

Better than the Third World economies, and better than the socialist economies, capitalism makes it possible for the vast majority of the poor to break out of the prison of poverty; to find opportunity; to discover full scope for their own personal economic initiative; and to rise into the middle class and higher.

Sound evidence for this proposition is found in the migration patterns of the poor of the world. From which countries do they emigrate, and to which countries do they go? Overwhelmingly they flee from socialist and Third World countries, and they line up at the doors of the capitalist countries.

A second way of bringing sound evidence to light is to ask virtually any audience, in almost any capitalist country, how many generations back in family history they have to go before they reach poverty. For the vast majority of us in the U.S. we need go back no farther than the generation of our parents or grandparents. In 1900, a very large plurality of Americans lived in poverty, barely above the level of subsistence. Most of our families today are described as affluent. Capitalist systems have raised up the poor in family memory.

The second great argument on behalf of capitalism is that it is a necessary condition for the success of democracy—a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition. The instances of Greece, Portugal, Spain, Chile (after Pinochet), South Korea and others allow us to predict that once a capitalist system has generated a sufficiently large and successful middle class, the pressures for turning toward democracy become very strong. This is because successful entrepreneurs speedily recognize that they are smarter and more able than the generals and the commissars. They begin demanding self-government.

As has been recognized since ancient times, the middle class is the seedbed of the republican spirit. Capitalism tends toward democracy as the free economy tends toward the free polity. In both cases, the rule of law is crucial. In both, limited government is crucial. In both, the protection of the rights of individuals and minorities is crucial. While capitalism and democracy do not necessarily go together, particularly in the world of theory, in the actual world of concrete historical events, both their moving dynamism and their instincts for survival lead them toward a mutual embrace.

On this basis, one can predict that as the entrepreneurial spirit grows in China, particularly in its southern provinces, we can expect to see an ever stronger tide in favor of democratic institutions begin to make itself felt. The free economy will unleash forces that propel China toward the free polity.

True, some dictators have chosen to permit capitalist systems even though such systems severely limit their own power over the economy. But there is an inherent defect in one-man rule that makes capitalism in such nations vulnerable. That defect is human mortality and the problem of succession. One of the great advantages of democracy is that it solves that problem of succession in a routine, regular and peaceful way. For the long-run health of capitalism, then, I venture the hypothesis that democracy, with its methods of peaceful succession, is also a necessary condition.

Another service to capitalism that democracy performs better than dictatorship draws upon its representational function. A free economy has a great many parts, and a parliament or representative congress tends to represent all these parts. Thus in a democracy every part of the economy has at least some active voice. This may make it more difficult for clear and simple decisions to be made. But the active representation of all economic parties does make less likely the harsh, unilateral decisions to which dictators are prone. Pinochet and other dictators have caused great harm to their economies by unconsidered, unilateral decisions, which a parliament might have prevented them from making.

People do not love democracy if it does not bring improvement in their economic conditions. They will not be satisfied with democracy if all it means is the opportunity to vote every two years. Typically, they do not ask for utopia but would like to see the possibility of solid economic progress for their families over the next three to four years. This is the psychological mechanism which makes capitalism, or at least a dynamic economy, indispensable to the success of democracy. Capitalism delivers the goods that democracy holds out as one of its promises.

Another service provided by capitalism to democracy is less well understood. The founders of the U.S. understood it very clearly, however, as one can see by a careful study of Federalist No. 10 and No. 53. Benjamin Franklin in London and Thomas Jefferson in Paris searched libraries to find out why previous republics had failed. Envy, it turns out, is the most destructive social passion—more so than hatred, which is at least visible and universally recognized as evil. Envy seldom operates under its own name; it chooses a lovelier name to hide behind, and it works like a deadly invisible gas. In previous republics, it has set class against class, sections of cities against other sections, leading family against leading family. For this reason, the early Americans stood against division (“divided we fall”) and sought ways to neutralize envy.

To accomplish this task, the Founders determined that a republic cannot be built upon the clerical (priestly) class; nor upon the aristocracy and military (whose interests in “honor” caused so many rivalries and contestations); but upon a far humbler and typically more despised class, those engaging in commerce. They opted for what they called “a commercial republic.” Why did they choose as their social foundation a class, and an activity, universally regarded by philosophers, religious leaders, and poets as lowly and ignoble?

They chose commerce for two reasons. First, when all the people in the republic, especially the able-bodied poor, see that their material conditions are actually improving from year to year, they are led to compare where they are today with where they would like to be tomorrow. They stop comparing themselves with their neighbors, because their personal goals are not the same as those of their neighbors. They seek their own goals, at their own pace, to their own satisfaction.

Indeed, in America, as de Tocqueville and others noted, there was a remarkable freedom from envy. On the whole, people rejoiced in the success of others, as signs of the coming prosperity of their village, city, and nation. Across America today, in public schools and colleges and universities, one still sees many portraits of public benefactors who were successful in commerce and industry. Democracy depends on a growing economy for its upward tide—for social mobility, opportunity, and the pursuit of personal accomplishment.

The other reason the Framers chose commerce and industry as the economic foundation for this nation is to defeat the second great threat to republican institutions, the tyranny of a majority. James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, in particular, understood the ravages of original sin in human affairs. They, therefore, strongly supported Montesquieu’s (and Aquinas’) notion of separated powers, plus the “principle of division” throughout every branch of society.

It is in the nature of commerce and industry that they focus the interests of citizens in many different directions: Some in finance, some in production, some in supply, some in wholesale, some in retail, some in transport, some in lumber, others in tobacco, or cotton, or vegetables, or whatever. In their structure and goals, industry differs from industry, firm from firm. In such ways, commerce and industry render highly unlikely any single, universal majority.

In summary, commerce and industry are a necessary condition for the success of republican government (”government of the people, by the people, and for the people”) because they (1) defeat envy, through open economic opportunity and economic growth; and (2) defeat the tyranny of a majority, through splitting up economic interests into many different foci.
136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ approves Trump tweet on: February 19, 2017, 10:12:41 AM
 Donald Trump’s Twitter habits often get him into trouble, but the President has outputted no better tweet than this one Wednesday: “Venezuela should allow Leopoldo Lopez, a political prisoner & husband of @liliantintori (just met w/ @marcorubio) out of prison immediately.”

This was one Trump tweet that didn’t make the front pages, but it might make a difference for the people of Venezuela, who have suffered immensely under the faux democratic dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro.

Leopoldo López was the leader of the Venezuelan opposition party Popular Will until Mr. Maduro railroaded him into a 13-year prison sentence two years ago.

The media have reported on Venezuela’s descent into status as an economic basket case, including shortages of basic foodstuffs and medical supplies. The Maduro government’s survival strategy has been to tough out criticism and let the Venezuelan catastrophe fade from international view.

Taking no chances of anyone noticing, the Maduro government on Wednesday shut down CNN En Español, the nation’s last remaining source of independent news.

But President Trump noticed. That tweet demanding the release of Leopoldo López belies Mr. Trump’s reputation for being soft on authoritarian leaders. On Monday the Trump Treasury Department put Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami on its sanctions list for allegedly aiding drug traffickers.

What a contrast this is to the help and support Venezuelans got from Barack Obama and John Kerry. Which is to say, essentially none, notably on the issue of recalling the despised Maduro government in a popular referendum. Last year the government-controlled national election council slow-walked a decision to permit the referendum, which never happened. International pressure, led by the Obama government, would have helped. It never came.

Credit is due the Trump Presidency for picking up this badly dropped ball.
137  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Venezuela Politica on: February 19, 2017, 10:12:02 AM
 Donald Trump’s Twitter habits often get him into trouble, but the President has outputted no better tweet than this one Wednesday: “Venezuela should allow Leopoldo Lopez, a political prisoner & husband of @liliantintori (just met w/ @marcorubio) out of prison immediately.”

This was one Trump tweet that didn’t make the front pages, but it might make a difference for the people of Venezuela, who have suffered immensely under the faux democratic dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro.

Leopoldo López was the leader of the Venezuelan opposition party Popular Will until Mr. Maduro railroaded him into a 13-year prison sentence two years ago.

The media have reported on Venezuela’s descent into status as an economic basket case, including shortages of basic foodstuffs and medical supplies. The Maduro government’s survival strategy has been to tough out criticism and let the Venezuelan catastrophe fade from international view.

Taking no chances of anyone noticing, the Maduro government on Wednesday shut down CNN En Español, the nation’s last remaining source of independent news.

But President Trump noticed. That tweet demanding the release of Leopoldo López belies Mr. Trump’s reputation for being soft on authoritarian leaders. On Monday the Trump Treasury Department put Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami on its sanctions list for allegedly aiding drug traffickers.

What a contrast this is to the help and support Venezuelans got from Barack Obama and John Kerry. Which is to say, essentially none, notably on the issue of recalling the despised Maduro government in a popular referendum. Last year the government-controlled national election council slow-walked a decision to permit the referendum, which never happened. International pressure, led by the Obama government, would have helped. It never came.

Credit is due the Trump Presidency for picking up this badly dropped ball.
138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Feinstein's husband (13 months old article) on: February 19, 2017, 10:07:40 AM
139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Muslim Woman: I feel safer in the US than in any Muslim country on: February 18, 2017, 10:15:02 PM
140  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Commentary: Our miserable 21st century on: February 18, 2017, 10:12:31 PM
141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Pitting Russia against Iran not likely on: February 18, 2017, 09:29:22 PM
Trump is not stupid to want to find a way to have Russia and US work together, but IMHO this idea is a bridge too far and is doomed to failure.

Here is an article in a similar vein:
142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Math: Five Questions on: February 18, 2017, 06:20:33 PM
143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: Mar-a-Lago on: February 18, 2017, 05:55:17 PM
144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Imginary News on: February 18, 2017, 05:52:00 PM
145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Poll: Americans want Dems to work with Trump on: February 18, 2017, 01:16:07 PM
146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / TE man convicted of plotting to attack NY Mosque on: February 18, 2017, 12:17:24 AM
147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shall Issue bill offered on: February 17, 2017, 11:15:53 PM
Snowball in hell's chance of passage though.
148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SJW vs. the Dalai Lama on: February 17, 2017, 11:14:41 PM
149  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Rambling Rumination: Odin's Eye on: February 17, 2017, 11:11:18 PM
150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Judicial Watch: The Insider Threat on: February 17, 2017, 10:55:47 PM
Hillary Clinton, The “Insider Threat”

 You don’t have to take my word for it that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s sloppy email practices were an egregious breech of national security.  An expert in the Department of Defense thought so as well.

This week we released a U.S. Department of the Army OpSec (Operational Security) PowerPoint  presentation that depicts Clinton as an example of “insider threats. ” The presentation, produced as part of a lecture on cybersecurity, also includes General David Petraeus, terrorist Nidal Hassan, Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, Edward Snowden, and Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis.
We obtained the documents in response to a January 11, 2017, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking the PowerPoint presentation on operational security delivered to soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Defense (No. 1:17-cv-00060)). We sued after the Department of Defense failed to respond to our August 22, 2016, FOIA request (the lawsuit is now over, since we got what we wanted).

The presentation warns against “Critical Information Compromises” involving material such as the “itineraries of … senior executive service (SES)” and “very important persons (VIPs),” any of which can result in “Attack, Kidnapping, Publicity.” It also cites “unsecure email” as an error that can lead to an enemy being able to “Kill, Counter, Clone.” Judicial Watch’s investigations into Clinton’s email practices while she was secretary of state repeatedly  produced examples of Clinton aide Huma Abedin sharing the schedule and travel plans of Clinton on an unsecure email system.
The operational security brief was reportedly leaked, and then posted on the Facebook page “U.S. Army W.T.F! moments.” Administrators of the Facebook page said a picture came from a service member stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

Clinton and Petraeus are cited as examples of “Careless or disgruntled employees.” Former Secretary Clinton conducted official government business using a email account, which was hosted on a server in her home in Chappaqua, New York. JW’s extensive FOIA litigation pried loose Clinton email records, which proved she sent and received classified information on an unsecure server while serving as secretary of state.

Gen. Petraeus is a retired four-star general and the former director of the CIA who pled guilty in federal court to a charge of unauthorized removal of classified information. At the time, Petraeus was having an affair with his biographer to whom he provided classified information while serving as Director of the CIA.  (I see he is up for potential appointment to President Trump’s National Security Advisor post.  For obvious reasons, this would seem to be a big mistake.)

No wonder it took a lawsuit to extract this damning Pentagon analysis, which recognizes Hillary Clinton as an “insider threat” to national security. The Trump Justice Department should take note and proceed with an appropriate investigation.
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